“Fire Fauci”: Supporters of President Trump have a new rallying cry: “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” Greeted by this chant at a campaign rally in Florida, the president responded by suggesting he would consider it: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said. “I appreciate the advice.” However, as Paulina Villegas explains in The Washington Post, removing Dr. Anthony Fauci from his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases wouldn’t be easy. Fauci is not a political appointee who can be fired at the president’s whim; as a career federal employee, he is protected from being removed from his position for political reasons, and the government agency would have to show just cause. Trump’s rally at Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport violated a midnight curfew meant to curb the spread of coronavirus, David Aaro reports for Fox News.
- Also: There have been nearly 9.3 million cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and more than 231,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Globally, more than 47 million people have been sickened and more than 1.2 million have died.
The preacher and the plague: Writing in the Portland Press Herald, Colin Woodard tells the story of Todd Bell, the Maine preacher who presided over a wedding connected to at least 178 coronavirus infections and eight deaths. Bell continues to preach without a mask and to encourage participation in the choir, even though singing is one of the most potent ways to spread the virus. Nine of the infected individuals are members of his congregation, including Bell’s 78-year-old father, but the church refused to cooperate with contact tracers so the full extent of the spread is unknown. What’s more, local government agencies can’t do anything about it, because churches aren’t subject to health inspections and licensing. Bell’s actions are representative of many pastors across the country. “He’s definitely not some kind of one-off,” explains Julie Ingersoll, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida. “These are widely held views in conservative American Protestantism across the country.”
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WHO’s on the case? Nine months and 1.2 million deaths since the coronavirus outbreak began and there still isn’t an independent, transparent investigation into its origins, Selam Gebrekidan, Matt Apuzzo, Amy Qin, and Javier C. Hernández report for The New York Times. “If we don’t know the source then we’re equally vulnerable in the future to a similar outbreak,” Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergency director, said in February. “Understanding that source is a very important next step.” Since he made that statement, the WHO has largely ceded control of the investigation to China. WHO investigators haven’t even visited the live-animal market in the city of Wuhan where the outbreak most likely began. Now the world may never know how it started—information that could help prevent future pandemics or help in the development of vaccines and treatments. The organization has let China conceal potentially embarrassing details about its early virus response and given President Trump ammunition to deny any culpability himself.
Sex and the pandemic: Two-thirds of the middle-aged people who have died from Covid-19 have been male, Jon Kamp and Jason Douglas report for The Wall Street Journal, and researchers believe a number of factors can explain why. Men are more likely to suffer from diabetes and hypertension, health conditions associated with worse Covid outcomes. Men also have weaker immune systems than women, and research has shown them to be less likely to wear masks or wash their hands frequently, and slower to seek medical care. The pandemic is also taking a toll on women, specifically working mothers. In September alone, 865,000 women left the workforce or lost their jobs, compared to just 216,000 men, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. “The pandemic has forced millions of families to decide who scales down or drops out of the workforce for the next few months, and it’s going to be mostly women,” Titan Alon, an economics professor at the University of California at San Diego, told the Chicago Tribune’s Katie Surma.
Runaway train: Supporters of President Trump attempted to force a Biden campaign bus off the road as it was traveling Friday from San Antonio to Austin, Josh Campbell reports for CNN. The motorists in the “Trump train” of nearly 100 vehicles yelled obscenities and forced the bus to a 20 mph crawl on Interstate 35. Neither Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris was on the bus, but one of the passengers was Wendy Davis, a former state senator challenging Republican Rep. Chip Roy in Texas’ 21st Congressional District. The harassment rattled staffers, who called 911. Local law enforcement eventually came to their aid and saw the bus to its destination. President Trump tweeted a video of the incident with the caption “I LOVE TEXAS” and said at a campaign rally that his supporters were “protecting” the bus. The FBI says it is investigating the incident.
Planetary chemo: The idea of artificially cooling the planet by releasing substances into the atmosphere that reflect the sun’s heat back into space is gaining traction among prominent research institutions and government agencies, Christopher Flavelle reports for The New York Times. The nonprofit Silver Lining has announced $3 million in grants to institutions including Cornell University, the University of Washington, Rutgers University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research to study how to implement “solar geoengineering.” The idea used to be dismissed as science fiction—or as too absurd and risky to seriously consider—but some say we should research it now in case the climate situation becomes so dire that desperate steps need to be taken. “We’re facing an existential threat, and we need to look at all the options,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School. “I liken geoengineering to chemotherapy for the planet: If all else is failing, you try it.”
Cooked too early: Ranchers in the Southwest are taking drastic steps to cool their livestock, Chris Malloy writes in The Guardian, using sprinklers on their pigs, shading and misting their bison and keeping their chickens indoors with the air conditioning on high. “If they were out in the sun, they would just get cooked,” chicken farmer Dave Jordan said. Animal agriculture accounts for a third of the region’s agricultural revenue, but increasing temperatures from climate change could render raising livestock impractical. Farmers and ranchers report animals growing at a slower rate than in cooler years, and dying at higher rates. But keeping animals cool is expensive and energy-intensive, cutting into profit margins and likely contributing to hotter temperatures.
Fantastic fungi: Oregon voters will get to decide today whether or not to legalize access to magic mushrooms for psychedelic-assisted therapy, which is on the ballot as Measure 109, or the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, Jackie Flynn Mogensen reports for Mother Jones. If the ballot measure passes, Oregon will become the first state to legalize psychedelic mushroom products. Some cities have already decriminalized psilocybin: first Denver, and then Oakland, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor. The movement in favor of magic mushrooms gained traction in the last decade, after Michael Pollan published an article in The New Yorker about the benefits of psychedelics, especially psilocybin, in the treatment of mental illness. Oregon has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the country, affecting one of every four adults.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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